The final table is set. Nine players and a record $22,950,000 in prize money remain at the world's richest sporting event. The final player in the No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em event will walk away with an unprecedented $7.5 million and the coveted 2005 World Series of Poker World Champion gold bracelet.
The pressure is mounting at Binion's Gambling Hall & Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, where the final day of the World Series of Poker is being held to honor the city's centennial. Eighteen ESPN television cameras are focused on the last day of action at the World Series of Poker. Play begins at 4 p.m. PDT and is expected to continue until late tonight. The original field of 5,619 players that began the World Championship event at the Rio All-Suite Casino on July 7 has been narrowed to nine:
Joseph Hachem, age 39, is a professional poker player who was born in Lebanon and lives in Australia. He will occupy seat one. Hachem is married with four children. This is his first World Series of Poker. He has been playing poker for 10 years. Heading into today's action, his chip count stands at $5,420,000.
Andrew Black, a 39-year-old charity worker born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and living in Dublin, Ireland, will occupy seat two. Known as "The Monk," Black, who is single, holds a law degree from Trinity College in Dublin. This is his fifth year in the World Series of Poker. He finished 14th in the World Series of Poker World Championship in 1997. Heading into today's play, his chip count stands at $8,140,000.
John Derick Barch, age 34, will occupy seat three. Better known as "Tex," Barch was born in Richardson, Tex. and now lives in McKinney, Tex. A former professional player, Barch is the owner of a beer garden. He is married with two children. Barch has a business degree from the University of Montana. He has been playing poker for 12 years, and this is his third year at the World Series of Poker. Heading into today's action, his chip count stands at $9,330,000.
Daniel Bergsdorf, a 27-year-old truck driver from Umea, Sweden, will occupy seat four. Bergsdorf, who is single, goes by the nickname "Berka." This is his first year at the World Series of Poker. Heading into today's play, his chip count stands at $5,270,000.
Mike Matusow, a 37-year-old professional player born in Los Angeles and now living in Las Vegas, will occupy seat five. Matusow, who is single, is a former poker dealer. He has been playing in the World Series of Poker for 10+ years and has won two gold bracelets (1999 No Limit Hold'em; 2002 Omaha Hi/Lo). He has finished in the money at the World Series of Poker 18 times. Heading into today's action, his chip count stands at $7,410,000.
Aaron Kanter, a 27-year-old professional player from Elk Grove, Calif., will occupy seat six. Known as "AK," Kanter holds a bachelor's degree in liberal studies from Chico State. He is a former loan officer. Kanter was born in Lodi, Calif., and is engaged to be married. This is his first year at the World Series of Poker. Heading into today's action, he is the chip leader, with $10,700,000.
Brad Kondracki, a 24-year-old law student at the University of Pennsylvania, will occupy seat seven. Kondracki, who holds a bachelor's degree in computer science from Cornell University, was born and resides in Kingston, Pa. Kondracki is single. He has been playing poker for less than two years. This is his first World Series of Poker. Heading into today's action, his chip count stands at $1,180,000.
Steven Dannenmann, age 38, is a CPA and mortgage banker from Severn, Md. He will occupy seat eight. Born in Brooklyn Park, Md., Dannenmann is married with one child. He holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Baltimore. This is his first World Series of Poker. Heading into today's play, his chip count stands at $5,460,000.
Scott Lazar, a 42-year-old production assistant for independent films, will occupy seat nine. He was born in Woodmere, NY, and lives in Studio City, Calif. Lazar, who is single and has two boys, is also a professional magician and goes by the nickname "Magic." This is his fourth World Series of Poker, where he has finished once in the money. Lazar has been playing poker for 18 years. Heading into today's play, his chip count stands at $3,370,000.
Players from all over the globe plunked down the $10,000 it takes to compete in the World Championship event. Hundreds more won a place in the event through a variety of qualifying tournaments called satellites.
The top nine places will pay as follows:
1st: $7.5 million; 2nd: $4.25 million; 3rd: $2.5 million; 4th: $2 million; 5th: $1.75 million; 6th: $1.5 million; 7th: $1.3 million; 8th: $1.15 million; 9th: $1 million.
ESPN-televised coverage of the WSOP main event begins Aug. 23 and concludes Nov. 15 with the broadcast of today's final table.